Categories
Featured Lifestyle Scary Movies and Series

Epidemic Based Horror Movies See Biggest Spike Since Release

Viral outbreak horror films such as Outbreak – 1995, 28 Days Later – 2002, Contagion – 2011, 12 Monkeys -1995, Resident Evil series are all seeing the most searches since each one was released independently.

But why would we watch these with a real-life threat staring directly at us?

The answer might lay in the Amygdala or the “primal brain” as many psychologists call it. This is the old brain, the subconscious parts of us that in a fear or anxiety scenario helps us survive. There is a concept of instinctual memories that we inherit these fears in order to learn to avoid danger. Why do infants inherently react to snakes even when first seeing them? Why do so many people fear spiders even though they have never had an incident involving spiders? We are simply wired for it based on many years of learning the hard way, which often meant death. Famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung stated that horror films “tapped into primordial archetypes buried deep in our collective subconscious” which is another way of saying that we have these fears already on call, we just don’t have direct access to them in our conscious thinking.

So why watch something that we are already afraid of? If we look at these movies there are several outcomes and even chemical reactions that happen that draw some of us in.

  • Cathartic release – The fight instinct says go towards this scary event and beat it. In each of these movies, there is a hero who survives, a hero who “fights” and that appeals to us. It shows us we may be able to survive, even in a zombie apocalypse. That unto itself is a relief!
  • Hypervigilance – This is a reaction to trauma and well these are traumatic times for many people. We stand on guard and watching these films can reinforce that behavior, which might feel like we are actively preparing ourselves somehow.
  • Exposing ourselves to the “Worst Case Scenario” – We get the opportunity to experience how bad it really could be and maybe that will make what is happening right here today feel less scary.
  • Watching horror movies, in general, can also trigger some pretty good chemicals in the brain. In fact, it might even be good for you if you can handle it!

Below is how the movies stacked up state by state. The darker the color the more searches they had for the film.

While we navigate these difficult times some of us will turn directly into the fear while some might find it more traumatizing. We don’t recommend one way or the other as it really comes down to how you handle fear and stress. But it makes sense why so many people want to watch these films while the world continues to prepare for the virus. Stay safe and be well.

Categories
Lifestyle

Everything I Needed To Know About Life I Learned From Horror Movies – By Rob Bliss

LIFE! (Am I right, folks? That guy knows what I’m talking about.)  Life can be horrific. But you ask yourself: is there any way to defend myself from the horrors of life? By golly, there sure is! With my patented (patent pending) new list of handy hints, entitled “Everything I Needed To Know About Life I Learned From Horror Movies”, you too can withstand the horrors of Life. Ironically, I culled these awesome life skills from horror movies themselves! It’s like getting an antidote from the poison that’s killing you! So sit back and relax, you soon won’t need to worry because you’ll be well-armed against all horrors that life can throw your way … but then I guarantee that YOU WILL BECOME THE HORROR! (Not a guarantee.) I got 99 problems but horror ain’t one.

1.) At the FIRST sign that a house is dangerous, GET OUT!

2.) Do NOT go into that room.

3.) Someone who is wearing a hockey mask, but who is not playing hockey, WILL KILLYOU!

4.) If you are young and pretty and blonde, YOU DIE FIRST!

5.) If you are young and pretty and brunette, YOU WILL DIE SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, etc.

6.) If you are plain, you live. Ugly lives; pretty dies.

7.) An inbred family is evil.

8.) People who live in nature are evil.

9.) Do not run into a forest. Or walk. Do not go anywhere near a forest.

10.) Do not open a door that squeaks. All doors squeak.

11.) Do not get too close to a window. Windows were made to be smashed.

12.) Do not make wagers with anyone, especially strange men in bars who have three fingers on one or both hands, or who wear overly large rings on their pinkie fingers.

13.) Pretty girls do not approach guys for ANY reason except to take them for a ride into the BOWELS OF HELL!

14.) All killers either have no hair or lots of it.

15.) Evil people who are buried are not dead.

16.) Geeky/pretty girls can both kill you with their minds.

17.) All ghosts have back stories, and they are not your friends.

18.) If there’s something in the bushes, leave it there.

19.) If your vehicle stalls for no apparent reason in the middle of nowhere, you are dead.

20.) If there is a light in the night sky shining down on you, it is not an angel.

21.) If the man you are talking to has a first or last name that is an anagram for either “Satan” or “Lucifer”, do not stay for a chat.

22.) Really normal people have horrific secrets.

23.) If there is a long knife shining in the moonlight on a kitchen counter, see Rule #1.

24.) Children who stand and stare at nothing are evil.

25.) Children who talk in monotone are evil.

26.) Twins have evil mind powers.

27.) During a full moon do not go into the woods. Or stay in a house with all doors and windows locked. Or go for a drive. Or go swimming. There is no way to escape a full moon.

28.) Do not swim naked.

29.) Do not do ANYTHING naked.

30.) Sex is evil.

31.) The suggestion of sex is evil.

32.) If you are in a house where you lock all doors and windows, the killer is inside the house already.

33.) If you barricade the only door in a room, the killer will come through the window or break down a wall or crash through the ceiling or explode up through the floor.

34.) A blind or disabled person never dies. Stick close to them.

35.) A creepy priest … is a creepy priest.

36.) If you’re not expecting a call, do NOT pick up the phone.

37.) If you do pick up the phone and don’t know who it is, hang up, rip the phone out of the wall, and move to another country.

38.) The call is ALWAYS coming from inside the house. Go to Rule #1.

39.) Do not split up to cover more ground.

40.) The killer will always be able to move faster than you.

41.) The car will not start on the first try.

42.) If the car does not start, do not waste time checking under the hood.

43.) If a cop shows up in the middle of nowhere to help you, KILL HIM.

44.) The crazy old man who gives you a spooky warning is RIGHT.

45.) Do not get out of the boat.

46.) If you’ve got a bite on your hook, let go of the fishing rod.

47.) Do not waste bullets shooting at shadows.

48.) If you’re in an alien environment and one of your crew has had an accident, do NOT bring them back into the ship. KILL THEM.

49.) The strange thing your team found does not need to be further investigated. BURN IT.

50.) If your spouse is acting strangely, they are having an affair with SATAN!

51.) If there are too many flies on the window, go to Rule #1.

52.) If a light goes on the boathouse, leave it alone.

53.) NEVER go outside in your pajamas.

54.) Killers love girls who wear nighties.

55.) The girl who goes to bed early in order to sleep or catch up on homework will live.

56.) Smokers die. Drinkers die. Drug users die. Whores die.

57.) If a dog barks at nothing, let it.

58.) If your dog runs off into the night, you are down one dumb dog.

59.) When a dog barks, sniffs, howls, paces, scratches, etc., go to Rule #1.

60.) If a cat screeches or hisses, go to Rule #1.

61.) Your gun will jam just when you need it most.

62.) Guns NEVER kill killers.

63.) If a box is locked, there’s a reason. Sell it to some other sucker.

64.) If something is glowing, don’t touch it.

65.) The mysterious figure in the distance who walks funny is not your savior, it’s a zombie.

66.) The number 666 should be avoided in all its manifestations.

67.) It is not a medical condition if your child has a number branded into their head.

68.) Running NEVER saves anyone.

69.) Screaming alerts killers to your location.

70.) Do NOT fall asleep.

71.) The killer is ALWAYS behind you, no matter which way you’re facing.

72.) It’s better to be dead. The living do sequels.

73.) If you limp, you will soon need to run.

74.) If you are brushing your hair in a mirror, you will soon see the killer just off to the right or down a bit. When you turn around, they will be gone.

75.) That thing outside you heard was not a raccoon. Do not go outside to make sure. Still, you do not have long to live. Call police or run screaming out of the house (see Rule#1) and head to a well-lit, crowded place.

76.) Killers do not go into crowded malls in the daytime.

77.) Night shift security guards are no help.

78.) A cop car will always speed by you, lights and sirens at full tilt, as you crawl and gasp on the ground.

79.) A cop is always late, always goes to the wrong place, and always points his/her gun at the innocent person.

80.) Few killers strike at dawn.

81.) NEVER take a shortcut.

82.) Do NOT leave to go get help.

83.) Whoever taunts others by saying “Chicken?” will die soon.

84.) The macho guy and the slut will die soonest.

85.) Curiosity will kill you quicker than common sense.

86.) The killer is either someone you know, or someone only one person knows, or someone no one knows.

87.) All doctors are evil and/or ineffectual.

88.) If there is a killer and a bear in the woods, you need to fear the killer; you won’t see the bear, and the bear won’t kill the killer for you.

89.) Very few actors in horror movies, who were not famous before, ever become famous.

90.) No child is killed by the killer unless said child is shown not to be a child at all.

91.) Killing the killer with instruments not typically used as weapons make the best weapons.

92.) Religious people will die, especially if they are shown to sin or are crazy.

93.) The best horror movies are low budget.

94.) A blonde must die before a brunette.

95.) If there is only one person with either red or black hair, they are evil.

96.) The faster the victim runs, the slower the killer walks.

97.) Humanoid aliens are good, but believed to be evil. Non-humanoid aliens are pure evil.

98.) Vampires are beautiful or very ugly, or they start beautiful but turn ugly when they get hungry.

99.) Pretty people stay pretty when dead.

Where to find more from Rob:
robbliss.flazio.com
twitter.com/BlissRob
https://necropublications.com/collections/rob-bliss
https://www.facebook.com/rob.bliss.779
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19496667.Rob_Bliss

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Best of Movies Featured Horror Books Lifestyle

Exploring the Roots of Folk Horror

Defining the term “folk horror” and tracing its trajectory throughout history is somewhat of a Herculean task. For a term that sounds so simplistic, it is an incredibly complex and ever-expanding genre. Entire books have been written on the subject (such as Adam Scovell’s 2017 film criticism Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange), and there’s even a three hour long documentary about it titled Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, which itself features over one hundred examples from film.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched cover

And while much of the emphasis surrounding the conversation is placed on British movies, there are plenty of overlapping examples in film, TV, and literature from around the world. Not to mention the actual elements that make up the genre are diverse, and range from folklore to the occult to witchcraft. 

Simply put, it’s complicated.

To that end, this article is not going to be an exhaustive look at the genre (that’s what the books and documentaries are for), but rather a brief overview of the term, its tropes, and popular examples. Think of it as a primer; a starting place in the shallows of the vast ocean that is folk horror. Ready to wade in?

Origins of the Term

The British music scene experienced something of a folk revival in the 1960s, and that, coupled with the rise in Neopaganism, led to a general infatuation with and exploration of older belief systems. Bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin explored occult themes in their songs, and the writings of famous occultist Aleister Crowley gained popularity. It wasn’t long before the fascination with folk and occult themes found its way into the world of cinema. And that’s not to say that music was the only vehicle for introducing folk horror, as disillusionment with modernism and outrage at governing bodies engendered in many a desire to return to nature and the simpler, older ways of life. At the same time, our post-industrial life has made us unused to rural life and uncomfortable with isolation.

When cult classic The Blood on Satan’s Claws came out in 1971, the Kine Weekly referred to the film as “a study in folk horror”. The movie’s director Piers Haggard also used this term when describing his film. Later the term received renewed attention in 2010 when writer/actor Mark Gatiss interviewed Haggard during a section of the BBC documentary A History of Horror. These two moments, 1971 and 2010, appear to mark the emergence and then subsequent revitalization of the expression “folk horror”.

The Blood on Satan's Claws cover

Elements of Folk Horror

Though it can be difficult to pin down the exact definition of folk horror, there is a general agreement that it is more of a mood, an atmosphere, than anything else. You know it when you see it, though it may be hard to explain why. Even common tropes can vary widely depending on geographic region and time period, and movies with very dissimilar plots can still fall under the folk horror umbrella. But for the purpose of simplicity, we will highlight what writer and filmmaker Adam Scovell (owner of the Celluloid Wicker Man blog) describes as the “Folk Horror Chain”, or the four basic thematic/aesthetic tenets of folk horror: Rural Location, Isolated Groups, Skewed Moral and Belief Systems, and Supernatural or Violent Happenings.

Rural Location: This was a big one for movies in the 60s and 70s because it saw a move away from filming in studios and out into the natural world. This element typically involves a fascination with pastoral landscapes and locations outside of urban life. Often there is an outsider who stumbles upon or is forced into a rural community, and who usually becomes some sort of scapegoat or sacrifice to traditional/pagan beliefs. Some argue that this element also encompasses ideas of psychography and location being a “state of mind” in more urban communities, such as in Roman Polanski’s film Rosemary’s Baby (1968).

Isolated Groups: This element typically takes one one of two meanings – either an individual is isolated from their normal physical environment or they’re isolated from those who share their same moral beliefs. For example, the characters in David Bruckner’s The Ritual (2017) find themselves stranded in the forest but also in discord with people who worship much different gods than they. This element is a link between the previous one and the next because isolation usually happens in rural environments, and it’s made even more upsetting because the antagonistic forces don’t act or think the same as the protagonist.

Skewed Moral and Belief Systems: In Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973), Sergeant Howie finds himself in a community whose religious beliefs and practices are at odds with his own. Across other examples there is a common thread of “modern” or “Christian” beliefs finding themselves in direct conflict with occult or pagan beliefs. This collision of morality and religious belief leads into or is specifically connected to the final element of the chain.

folk horror ritual

Supernatural or Violent Happenings: Folk horror stories are often steeped in, or at least influenced by, folklore of the particular region they’re set in, and this final piece of the chain usually involves either supernatural beings or some form of ritualistic violence (or both) related to that folklore. Invocations of demonic entities, horrific sacrifices, occult practices, and pagan idolatry are all par for the course. 

British Folk Horror

The current popularity of folk horror, at least what our primary audience would be familiar with, owes a lot to British cinema, and in particular the Hammer Films production company. A group of films from the 60s and 70s, known affectionately as the “Unholy Trinity,” is what many point to as the birth of the genre. These movies are Witchfinder General (1968), the aforementioned Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), and The Wicker Man (1973). These three films helped distinguish some common characteristics of folk horror, namely the picturesque landscapes, the isolated communities, and the emphasis on sacrifices and supernatural summonings. And yet, showing how intangible the genre is, these are also three very different movies in terms of plot.

BBC's Ghost Stories for Christmas cover

Strong examples of the genre can also be found in British television from the same time period. There was the BBC’s Ghost Stories for Christmas series, which adapted several of M.R. James’s short stories with folk horror elements, such as Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968), A Warning to the Curious (1972), and The Ash Tree (1975). There was a drama series from the BBC, titled Plays for Today, with standout hits like Robin Redbreast (1970) and Penda’s Fen (1974). And there were still other enduring examples of the genre like Children of the Stones (1977), a miniseries made for children but still incredibly terrifying.

Though the British rise in folk horror began in the 1960s and 1970s, there was something of a resurgence in the genre in the 2010s. Some of these newer British films (and in the UK more widely) took the tropes and themes from decades previous and put their own modern spin on them, while others sought to return to folk horror’s roots, so to speak, with their emphasis on ritual, folklore, and mankind’s connection to nature. While there are many examples to pull from – folk horror appears to be trending right now – several standout movies include David Keating’s Wake Wood (2009), Paul Wright’s For Those in Peril (2013), Elliot Goldner’s The Borderlands (2013), and Corin Hardy’s The Hallow (2015). Another prolific filmmaker in the genre is Ben Wheatley, whose canon of folk horror movies includes Kill List (2011), Sightseers (2012), A Field in England (2013), and In the Earth (2021).

Kill List cover
Sightseers cover
A Field in England cover

Most of the common examples in British folk horror are from film, however there are many books from Britain that include plots and tropes from the genre. In fact, as it goes, some of the oldest examples of the genre are found in literature, from authors such as Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, and M.R. James. Some shining examples in more modern literature include Adam Nevill’s The Ritual (2011) and The Reddening (2019), Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney (2014) and Devil’s Day (2017), Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s Hex (2016), and Stephanie Ellis’s The Five Turns of the Wheel (2020) – as well as numerous comics, such as Simon Davis’s Thistlebone (2020) from 2000AD. 

American Folk Horror

Though the term originated in the British imagination, the evolving genre of folk horror has set roots in American cinema and literature as well. In some cases this involves American filmmakers creating movies very much influenced by the British tradition, such as Avery Crounse’s Eyes of Fire (1983), Robert Eggers’s The Witch (2015), Gareth Evans’s Apostle (2018), and Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019). These films have strong similarities to their British cousins in regards to their emphasis on British landscapes and lore. The Blair Witch Project (1999) is another movie that could be included in this group, though it doesn’t fit the mold quite as well.

There are also many crossover elements between the genres of southern gothic and folk horror, and these commonalities can be seen in films such as Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter (1955). There is also a sub-genre of film called “hicksploitation” or “hillbilly horror” which spawns from the southern gothic tradition and which, upon first glance, may not seem to have much to do with folk horror. Yet, when one applies Scovell’s folk horror chain theory, the similarities begin to arise. Films that would fit in this category include movies like John Boorman’s Deliverance (1972), Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977).

Old rusty tools in a toolshed

In American literature, elements of folk horror can be seen as early as the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving. Other popular novels and short stories in the genre include Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home (1973), Stephen King’s “Children Of The Corn” (1977), Shirley Jackson’s “The Summer People” (1984), Raymond E. Feist’s Faerie Tale (1988), Elizabeth Hand’s Wylding Hall (2015), John Langan’s The Fisherman (2016), and Victor Lavalle’s The Changeling (2017).

A Genre Diverse and Divergent

As we continue to reevaluate and redefine what folk horror is, we begin to notice a few common truths: the genre has existed in some form or fashion long before the 60s and 70s, and some version of it can be found in almost every country around the world. Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, early forms of mystical poetry, and even some of Shakespeare’s plays all have folk horror elements. The earliest example in film comes from the Danish-Swedish fictionalized documentary Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922). Sweden has Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf (1968). Australia has Peter Weir’s The Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). Japan has Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba (1964) and Kuroneko (1968). And on and on it goes.

Scene from Haxan movie

Also the more we explore the foundations and tenets of folk horror, the more we find examples which lie outside of the commonly accepted cannon, but which end up fitting the mold in diverse and interesting ways. Some titles here would include Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971), Bernard Rose’s Candyman (1992), Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz (2007), Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017), Ari Aster’s Hereditary (2018), and even the Paranormal Activity franchise. 

As it should be clear by now, attempting to box the folk horror genre into an easy-to-digest definition is simply not possible. We didn’t even get into the various histories of folklore and dark fairy tales around the world and their individual influences and appearances in the genre. We also didn’t get into the overlapping traits in genres such as science fiction and cosmic horror. What we did accomplish, hopefully, is to give you a taste of the world that you will carry with you into your own exploration of this wonderfully diverse genre known as folk horror.